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May 15, 2003

Kerry and the Iran-Contra Fight

Before the conventional wisdom sets in on Kerry as some kind of careful pol with no bite, folks should reach back and remember his role back in the 1980s in challenging the whole Reagan administration ties to money laundering, drug running and the Contras down in Central America. Kerry was willing for years to face down the CIA, the Justice Department and narco-terrorists in pursuing the dirty dealings of the Reagan-North network of rightwing drug-linked paramilitaries.

Here are some excerpts from newspaper items of the day (worth reading for their own account since many of the officials involved are still in the Bush administration):

Washington Post, November 27, 1986

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) charged yesterday that Attorney General Edwin Meese III and the Justice Department have shunted aside allegations of illegal transactions involving the rebels in Nicaragua for months and cannot be trusted to conduct a thorough inquiry into the secret money transfers disclosed this week.

"It's like having the fox guard the chicken coop," Kerry said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "Attorney General Meese and others involved in the formulation of this policy, part of the overall politics of the White House, cannot be the ones to clear the air, no matter what their good intent and good will."

Kerry, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he has been conducting an investigation of "the network set up and operated by Oliver North from the National Security Council for almost a year now."

Washington Post, August 8, 1987

At issue, along with the rebels' character and reputation, is the U.S. government's commitment to enforce the law against criminals whose activities might advance foreign policy objectives, congressional investigators said. An overarching issue, Kerry said, is how "the power of the narco-dollar" has come to affect governments and policies.

Based on State Department statements in June 1986 and documents introduced in the Iran-contra hearings, Kerry said, it is "a known fact" that some individuals connected to the contra movement were also involved in narcotics. The unanswered question, he said, "is what was the nature of it, and the extent."

UPI, February 27, 1988

''We were still questioning whether or not there was a crime involved'' in the gun-running from Florida to the Contras, Kellner said in his April 30, 1987,deposition to the House Iran-Contra committee made public by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

The testimony of Kellner, three other Justice Department attorneys and an FBI investigator present new evidence that senior U.S. law enforcement officials had early indications of North's pro-Contra activities.

The newly released testimony also revealed for the first time the extreme frustration experienced by the junior attorney and investigator working on the case over the unwillingness of their superiors to pursue it aggressively.

New York Times, April 13, 1990

But committee investigators said their inquiry was hindered by uncooperative Federal officials. Mr. Kerry disclosed today that Lawrence E. Walsh, the independent counsel investigating the Iran-contra affair, has been investigating allegations that Reagan Administration officials sought to obstruct the Kerry investigation.

The report itself quotes Jeffrey Feldman, a former United States Attorney in Miami, as having said Justice Department officials told him that representatives of the department, Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation met in 1986 ''to discuss how Senator Kerry's efforts'' to push for hearings ''could be undermined.''

Boston Globe, April 14, 1990

In making the report public yesterday, Kerry said that the independent counsel in the Iran-contra arms deal is looking into allegations that Reagan administration officials obstructed an early portion of the committee's investigation.

The subcommittee report included a section on these allegations, saying the Justice Department "provided information to the committee that tended to discredit" charges about contra drug links. The department, according to the report, kept telling the subcommittee "the persons who had made the allegations . . . had significant credibility problems" and "there was no truth to the allegations."

The subcommittee concluded, however, that such links existed and devoted a large section of the report to them.

Posted by Nathan at May 15, 2003 02:45 PM

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Kerry's report on BCCI forever cemented his 'one of the good ones' status in my book.

Posted by: vachon at May 16, 2003 04:36 PM

Today, Tuesday, July 15, 2003, Sean Hannity, on his afternoon RADIO show accused Senator Kerry of calling for budget cuts to the CIA's budget in 1986. He used this to decry Senator Kerry's criticism of the Bush Administration's failure to get it right concerning the CIA's involvement in the insertion of the acknowledgement of Saddam Hussein's looking to purchase yellow cake in Zaire in the State of the Union Message in January.

Posted by: Patrick Jude Wilson at July 16, 2003 09:49 PM

It is know that John Kerry found out about the Iran Contra Affair, but from whom did he find out about it. It has never come out who that individual was. Does anyone have an idea?


Posted by: kelly at February 10, 2004 11:40 PM

The news of the secret arms-selling visit to Tehran by US and Israeli officials was leaked by the Iranian Ayatollah Montazeri to Syrian intelligence.The Syrians fed the story to 'As Safir' newspaper of Lebanon.I could look up the date for you, but that was the first publication of anything strictly related to the North network, though several articles had already been published speculating about why billions of dollars' worth of US weapons were flowing through Israeli hands to the Islamic Republic of Iran when there was supposed to be a strict arms embargo.That trade started in 1981 even before Reagan took office and the networks predated and extended far beyond just North's Iran-Contra deal.North & Co. only moved about a billion and a half dollars' worth to Iran, the total sales of US weaponry and spares to Iran was around eighty billion dollars' worth, most of it paid in oil shipped straight from Iran to Eilat.

The story of CIA gun-running to the Contras in Nicaragua broke shortly afterward when CIA operative Hassenfuss's aircraft was shot down by the Sandinistas.Republican Senator Barry Goldwater (PBUH) dropped enough public and private hints to the Democrats to put them on the right track...

Posted by: Nuri Pasha at February 28, 2004 02:09 AM

It was actually Al-Shira', not As-Safir newspaper which published the incredible story of the McFarlane, North, Nir trips to Tehran for the first time, though some American reporters were zeroing-in on it, too. Robert Parry and a Time magazine Persian Gulf stringer with an Indian name which I can't recall now.

Posted by: Nuri es-Sa'id at June 3, 2004 02:59 PM

Think simple. Learn different. Macinstruct.net

Posted by: Francis at July 6, 2004 09:21 AM

I had always thought Ari Ben-Menashe offered the 'McFarlane in Tehran' story to "Time", who turned him down because of Reagan Administration pressure.He then gave the story to Al-Shira', prompting Reagan's comment that the story would have died if not for "that rag in Beirut".At least this version could be corroborated by someone who was at Time in those days.I doubt if "Syrian intelligence" is talking about it, and Ayatollah Montazeri probably values his recently acquired freedom, not to mention his neck, more than it would be worth to resurrect the subject at this point.

Posted by: Wasn't it Ari? at February 10, 2005 04:53 PM

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